Spain is a country with layers upon layers of personality. While Barcelona might be its poster child because of its picturesque urban life and Ibiza takes the biscuit for its dynamic nightlife, Madrid is not to be ignored. With plazas and parks at every corner, you can expect it to be brimming with culture and history. The possibilities are endless. And while the mandatory visit to the popular Museo del Prado and quintessential Puerta del Sol are fine, there’s so much more beyond these tourist hotspots that can make you fall in love with Madrid.
Here are a few of the most unique experiences to have in the Spanish capital:
Stroll through the Parque de El Capricho
Nestled along the outskirts of Madrid lies the tucked away Parque de El Capricho. Because of its relatively remote location, very few tourists venture out this far — but that only makes the trip that much better. The Culture Trip highlights its charming fountains and colourful lilies, which you can enjoy in peace and quiet. This pocket of nature gives you a brief escape from the bustling urban fare. You’ll also see Grecian columns and ruins peppered around the area, with a labyrinth to complete the romantic atmosphere.
Bossaball is a one-of-a-kind sport involving players facing off on an inflatable court with trampolines. It combines elements of football, volleyball and gymnastics into one sport. Add a samba-style soundtrack and you’ve got the coolest sport around. In an article by Ladbrokes on ‘The World’s Most Popular Obscure Sports’ it reveals how Bossaball originated in Spain in 2005 and is now played throughout the world. In 2008, the University of Madrid even ran a 3-month Bossaball programme, much to the delight of players and spectators. Since then, it has been an interesting addition to Spain’s long list of popular sports. While it is best played at the beach where it makes for an exciting water sport, it is equally fun on dry land and definitely, a unique activity made even more special when played in its founding country.
Have a sunset drink on the rooftop of Círculo de Bellas Artes
Madrid is full of breathtaking architecture, and there’s no better way to take in the view than on a rooftop. Círculo de Bellas Artes might be known for their art exhibitions, but you can also head up to their rooftop restaurant El Tartan, which is a great spot for cocktails as you watch the sun go down on central Madrid. During the day, you can also sunbathe and kick back on the hammocks.
Shop at Mercado de los Motores
History and shopping come together at the Mercado de los Motores. This market lets you shop for kitschy souvenirs and unique items to the backdrop of Madrid’s vintage train museum, the Museo del Ferrocarril. There, you’ll find everything from antiques and furniture, to second-hand clothes and gourmet food. And of course, Spain’s oldest train cabins, which sadly, are not for sale.
See the street art at La Tabacalera
A former tobacco factory located in a nondescript working-class neighbourhood might be the last place you’d expect to find art, but Travel blog Uncovering Spain applauds La Tabacalera as one of the capital’s most exciting art spaces. Three years after closing shop and being abandoned as a tobacco factory, it was rehabilitated into a thriving community for art projects while promoting free culture. It is also located in the heart of Lavapies, one of Madrid’s most diverse districts.